Today I bought an esteira, a straw mat for sitting on the ground from some guys in the market area of our town. We had haggled down the prices for some woven straw sifters but for some reason I hadn’t tried too hard to lower the price of the mat so I paid 70 Meticais for it. I was waiting on my change when a Mozambican walked up and asked how much the same mats cost and one of the guys said 50 Meticais (I’m not really sure why they thought we wouldn’t be able to understand them when we had been speaking in Portuguese with them the entire time). Natalia, a Spanish volunteer who works at my mission (and speaks better Portuguese than we do since her first language is Spanish), lit into him about how we aren’t South African tourists with a lot of money and that we are all volunteers. They thought this was kind of comical until she told them that we will be living in this town for two years, but next time we need a mat or anything we are never coming back to them. “I will give you a great price next time!” he pleaded.
It’s nice now that we are getting our bearings because we know generally how much things can cost. As we were walking around yesterday a few times we asked how much things cost and when the vendor gave the price we would say “no, you’re lying. This is the price.” To which they smile and say “okay, you’re right, I’ll give it to you for this price” but we respond “no, why would I give my business to someone who tries to rip me off?” Ann and I have poked our heads into every single store we found in our town, Maxixe, and Inhambane, and have not found a single one owned my African Mozambicans. A few are owned by Chinese and the vast majority are owned by Indians and middle-easterners (each of these three towns had its own Mosque).